Heartache during the holidays
Remembrance service offered each year.
There’s no right way to grieve.
Emotions can range from anger to overwhelming sadness, plus all of the feelings in between.
Dealing with the death of a loved one during the holidays adds even more stress, according to local funeral director Tim Strauser.
What can be difficult, Strauser said, is the realization how much the deceased meant.“You may realize you’ve taken things for granted,” he said. “Death makes you realize that.”
For that reason, Strauser, co-owner of Blase-Strauser Memorial Chapels & Monuments, and office manager Teresa Peckham, offered some suggestions shared at an annual remembrance service.
The service was Sunday for family members who lost a loved one during the past year, with readings, a message, special music, a candle-lighting ceremony and refreshments.
Each family also receives an ornament inscribed with the name, and birth and death dates, of the deceased.
Strauser and Peckham said giving to others, during times of grief, can help shift the focus from what you wish may have been to the present moment.
“Maybe it’s an opportunity to bless someone else by spending quality time with him or her,” Strauser said, noting that the grieving person may not have lived in the same town as a deceased grandparent. “So you may spend time with someone in the nursing home in your town.”
Peckham said it’s important to focus on positive things and blessings, like happy memories and the family members you still have.
Physically doing something can also be helpful.
“Write a letter to your loved one and put it their stocking or buy a gift or take food to someone who needs it,” she said. “Volunteer at church or for some activity.”
Sometimes, Strauser said, carrying on traditions the loved one liked is important. Or, starting new traditions.
“Maybe your mother, who died, enjoyed a big dinner on Christmas Eve,” he said. “Or you do breakfast, instead, on Christmas Day.”
Guarding one’s pocketbook during times of stress, is crucial.
“It’s easy to make decisions that, under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t have made,” Peckham said.
During times of grief, she pointed out that some people need to draw together and find others who share the same burden of grief while others need to be alone with their memories.
“Sometimes you think you are the only one going through the pain or feeling a certain way,” Peckham said.
It’s also okay to change your mind.
For example, a grieving person may—at the last minute—decide he or she isn’t up to attending a holiday party.
Also, Peckham said there’s nothing wrong with tears or with laughing and having a good time.
Strauser said most people appreciate when others remember their deceased loved one and ask how they are doing.
“Don’t act like the deceased never existed,” he said.
Peckham said the holidays or an anniversary or birthday can bring back sadness as fresh as when the death occurred.
“That can be tough,” she said.
Despite the pain, Peckham said the living have to continue to move forward.
“You may feel uncomfortable at Christmas but one day, you will look forward to it again,” she said.
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